Handpan Makers United - Seeking to Protect the Handpan(?)

We’ve been receiving a lot of news updates this past week or so from U.S Handpan makers, Pantheon Steel.  Their new generation of Halo are now hitting the market, and they also released word that they were generously offering up a new building technique that they’d developed to the public, free-and-gratis.  But arguably, it is their most recent announcement, regarding the formation of an association calling themselves, “Handpan Makers United”, that has been the most interesting.  

Handpan Makers United is seemingly a coalition of prominent names, and organisations from within the world of Handpan, from respected makers, through to festival organisers, players, and those in the accessories market.  And their recently published mission statement describes their grouping as follows:

‘Advocates for protection and cultivation of the global tuned steel community through spread of truthful information, collaboration, camaraderie and free creative expression within the Handpan Art form.’

Reading through their mission statement further, and a key part of their plans appear to be aimed at the dissemination of ‘helpful building practices’, with some of the key-players within this newly formed super-group, such as Pantheon Steel, and Saraz, in particular, having already shared an abundance of useful information, images, and instructionals, between them, online, and off. So for those in the building-game, or considering getting into it, this is a resource that is likely to be carved out of solid-gold.  With the Handpan building references section already containing a wealth of useful and interesting links through which to browse.

However...

Outside of that, there are some slightly worrying aspects to the association's mission statement, for our personal tastes (whatever they’re worth) - with words and phrases such as “protection”, and “spread of truthful information” being littered throughout it.  

As a general rule, whenever somebody offers to sell us the "truth", we usually ask first, “whose?”. And with the Handpan now having reached its late-teens, and seemingly having done pretty well for itself thus far - sprouting off here, and budding off there; in a very natural way, to create the vibrant and varied world that it already has around itself - you kind of have to ask yourself - is the Handpan really in need of protection, and if so, from whom?  PANArt (The Hang-makers) themselves have been trying to exhibit post-sale control over how their own creations are perceived, and played for years, with (arguably) very limited results.  They are well-known to have become hugely protective of their own intellectual-property in recent years - yet for a hundred Euro a time, you can pretty much slap their brand-name over whatever the hell you like (or thereabouts).  

A quick look through the founding-members of the United Handpan Makers reveals no real surprises - being primarily made-up of established, already interconnected, U.S.-based makers, with a strong “community” ethos.  Combine that with the facts that the likes of Tzevaot presumably found their invitations to join lost in the mail, and that individuals usually don’t feel the need to combine, and to consolidate power and influence, without a very specific agenda to push - and it doesn’t feel like too much of a stretch to imagine that we might be seeing certain instruments tagged with the coveted (and self-regulated?) "United Handpan Makers Approved" stamp, in the near-to-distant future...

Regardless though, and whatever should become of this league of united Handpan makers, and co. they are almost certainly worth a follow over at Facebook - and a browse of their website - where likely you will find treasure (and possibly a little propaganda) awaiting you.

Dreaming a Handpan into Existence - Lucid Dreaming

Over the years we’ve stumbled across a number of imaginative ways that some have utilised to make their own Hang-like instruments on a budget.  Such as this guy’s homemade plastic-bottle Handpan-esque creation.  

But if you’re short on cash, and even the idea of messing around with sellotape and empty soda bottles seems like too much hard work, you’re still not without options - according to The Lucid Guide over at YouTube, who purportedly simply dreams his Handpan into existence, and composes Handpan music while he sleeps…

Lucid Dreaming

A lucid dream is a dream during which the dreamer is aware of dreaming. During lucid dreaming, the dreamer may be able to exert some degree of control over the dream characters, narrative, and environment.

Composing Handpan Music While You Sleep

Faced with the dilemma of only having partial access to their friends Handpan,yet still wishing to compose on the instrument even with the pan out of reach, The Lucid Guide simply manifests his friends pan into existence when in a dream state, using the power of lucid dreaming.  Stating about the following recording: ‘Having only limited access to the Hang Drum used within this recording, roughly 80% of my practice with this instrument has occurred during lucid dreams’.



A related article found over at www.world-of-lucid-dreaming.com, by Daniel Love, describes the Handpan as being the perfect tool for experimenting with the ability to practice and explore creativity within the dreamscape.  And documents his experiences at integrating the arts of lucid-dreaming, and Handpan composition.  With one particularly interesting anecdote being that after recording, and sharing his efforts online, the NaturePan maker, the same brand of Handpan that Daniel had been borrowing from a friend, and also dreaming into existence, stumbled across his work. And decided to donate Daniel one of their instruments for real, in order to help further his experiments.

Solid evidence, that lucid, or even more tangible, you literally can dream a Handpan into your hands - If you really set your mind to it.

Read more: The Dreamlike Music of the Handpan - by Daniel Love

Tāla Handpans - Made in London

Back in the early days of the first wave of new post-Hang Handpan-makers, when new tuners and their creations were just beginning to pop-up across the globe, from Germany, to Spain, the U.S., and Italy.  Being UK based here at HPM - oh how we waited eagerly for the first home-grown maker(s) to appear.

Yet while us Brits may have been slow-to-start (or at least to show our cards), English fans of the Handpan in search of an instrument, just a few short years on, now find themselves with a decent number of options from which to choose.  And with this post, we’re proud to introduce to those who have yet to discover them, the London-made, Tāla Handpans.  Evidence that with little more than a hammer, a small shed in which to wield it, and a whole lot of persistence - you can literally beat your dreams into existence...  



The Story of Tāla Handpans

‘Based in Teddington, West London and working from a rather small shed in my back garden, I picked up a hammer September 2015 ready to go to battle with the process of trying to create these amazing instruments that I fell in love with many years ago. After a few months banging my head against the wall and wondering where the hell I was going wrong, questioning if I was actually loosing my mind hammering a sheet of steel in a 6X4Ft shed.. a break through happened.. I managed to tune a rather shady note into what I would call a pan shaped object :-D I guess that event and glimmer of hope kept me going... people questioned my sanity but months later Tāla Handpans was born..

Life is to live and learn, put your mind and effort to any subject and anything is possible’.



A “Tala”, literally means a "clap, tapping one's hand on one's arm, a musical measure". It is the term used in Indian classical music to refer to musical meter, that is any rhythmic beat or strike that measures musical time. The measure is typically established by hand clapping, waving, touching fingers on thigh or the other hand, verbally, striking of small cymbals, or a percussion instrument - in the South Asian traditions. Along with "raga" which forms the fabric of a melodic structure, the tala forms the time cycle and thereby constitutes one of the two foundational elements of Indian music.



For more information on Tāla  Handpans you can find them over at Facebook: HERE, or via YouTube: HERE.

The Sounds of Nibiru - Singing Steel for the End of the World

With claims by conspiracy-theorists, or truthers (depending on which side of the fence you stand) growing in number, and magnitude, that the coming of Nibiru will soon be upon us.  With this post, we’ll be taking a look at the work of Ukraine-based steel-tongue-drum manufacturer, SupernovaWorkshop.  And in particular, their “Planet X” inspired model (featured below).

But first, for those who don’t know - Nibiru, is said to be a large planetary object, or planet, roughly four times the size of Earth, that will, at some point in the near future, pass close by, or even collide with, our own home. destroying it in the process, in a cataclysmic-apocalyptic-doomsday-extinction-event (nasty stuff).  And while the prophesized coming of Nibiru might have a pretty shaky origin-story, coming in the form of a warning to a human-contactee named, Nancy Lieder, via a mysterious race of Aliens known as the Zeta - that has not stopped it from gaining popularity.  With YouTube evidence supposedly showing this mysterious planet approaching
being bountiful, and suggestions that tunnels such as those recently built under the Denver International Airport being an attempt by the Elites to escape mankind's coming fate, aplenty.  

The Sounds of Nibiru - by SupernovaWorkshop

Considering that our own invitation to the tunnels, or space-faring life-rafts of the Elites is likely to be a long time coming - we will likely need to find other ways to fill our final hours. And with that in mind, perhaps there are worse ways to spend your final moments, than in playing something contemplative, comforting, or perhaps even celebratory (depending on your mindset) - with the aid of one of the SupernovaWorkshop's homemade Nibiru themed steel tongue drum (pictured right). Tuned to an Aeolian sound-model, and featuring a somewhat unusual double-tongue design...



Find Nibiru Drums by SupernovaWorkshop for sale over at ETSY: HERE

Or take twenty minutes out to learn what the effects of a rogue-planet like Nibiru entering our Solar System might have (even with the worst case scenario of a direct collision avoided) for the human-race - below...

Handpan Meet Furry - The Fox and the Hound-Pan

Here at HPM we love witnessing the Handpan make its way into all manner of situations and communities, the more obscure the better, and in particular, those that sit outside of the core Handpan-community (for reasons we’ll illustrate further below).

If like us, you’re a big fan of the long-running HBO television series, Entourage, you’ll likely be at least partially familiar with the concept of Furries (see picture right).  But for those who aren’t, a “Furry”, is an enthusiast for animal characters with human characteristics, and in particular, a person who dresses up in costume as such a character or uses one as an avatar online.  And the following video by YouTube user, Sparxboi, is perhaps the first documented meeting between a Handpan, and a bona fide Furry.



The Handpan being played by Sparxboi above is a Vietnam-made, Pansula Handpan.  And while these may have earned themselves a fairly questionable reputation, primarily due to the fact that at least one person involved with these instruments has been known to use misleading videos in the past (the videos of other makes of Handpan) to sell their instruments.  This particular Pansula Handpan, is one of the nicer ones we’ve personally heard (particularly when you consider the dude is wearing giant Furry-hands). With other more recent Handpan offerings from Vietnam also showing signs of improvement.  

Which is why, going back to the point we made at the beginning of this post, it was unfortunate to once again stumble across a member of the blessings-of-love-and-light brigade, in the form of Pandora Pantam-man, Martin Berman, offering the following in the way of encouragement to a Furry who was clearly enjoying himself…


It's always a pleasure to find yourself a part of such a loving and nurturing community. Here at HPM, if we can't look out for the under-dogs, you can be sure that we're going to be looking out for the under-foxes (or Furries in fox outfits at the very least). And while we're not saying that these are the best sounding Handpan on the market by any means, regardless of your thoughts, if you come across somebody out there enjoying life, playing some Handpan, and generally having a ball - there really is no need to wander on up, and spit in their face...

Paint Your Evatek - Handpan Case Art

Evatek Art by Pam Gogh Marinelli
In a recent post titled, ‘Ornately Decorated Handpan’, we made note of the fact that in recent years, many Handpan makers have been gradually edging towards making instruments that are (arguably) as attractive to the eye, as they are to the ear. Something that feels to be a natural progression, and was a path that even PANArt themselves trod through each subsequent generation of Hang. With later generations coming with such refinements as being brushed in brass. And having more decoratively-styled central notes (dings) - than earlier generation.

And this trend towards the more aesthetically pleasing, has not been limited to the instruments themselves, but has also been applied to Handpan accessories.  As can be seen in the growing number of examples of Evatek Handpan cases (as made by Hardcase Technologies) being transformed from the purely functional, into works of art in-and-of themselves.  

Paint Your Evatek - with Pam Gogh Marinelli

Probably the biggest name at time of posting in Evatek artwork is Pam Gogh Marinelli, some of whose work you can see in the picture above-right. Pam appears to work hand-in-hand with the manufacturers of the Evatek cases, Hardcase Technologies, under the title of "Evatek Design". With each piece of Evatek art being hand painted with Acrylic non-toxic colors. 100% Waterproof and scratch resistant. With customised artwork using your own ideas and images also being an option.

For more information on Pam Gogh Marinelli, and examples of her work, you can find her over at Facebook: HERE. Or via her website: HERE.

Other Evatek Artists:

While the Evatek art-movement may be fairly new, already, Pam Gogh Marinelli, finds herself in talented company. With the likes of Swiss artist Ana Paz, and Israel’s Doron Asayga Eilat also offering up some beautifully painted Evatek cases. Among others. Who can be found and explored via the map of official Evatek painters below...



Or of course, should you be of an artistic temperament yourself (or just fancy giving it a go), you could always try your hand at painting your own...



For more information on Evatek Design you can visit the HCT website: HERE

PANArt Hang Prices at eBay - Thus Far in 2017

Click to enlarge.
Responses to a recent post over in the Handpan Instruments Facebook group appeared to suggest that there is currently some confusion regarding the prices that PANArt Hang are selling for via the eBay auction platform, as we find ourselves mid-2017.  While often-cited un-witnessed deals between friends see Hang supposedly traded for little more than hugs and rainbow-dust in rare cases, in terms of gauging current prices for genuine PANArt-made instruments sold on the open-market, love it or hate it, eBay remains the only real (and transparent) window into how the land lies on that front.

Meaning that while whenever a Hang finds it way onto Facebook for sale, everybody and their mother will have an opinion about it - particularly regarding the price.  The information you’ll find there is generally confusing (or confused) at best - and intentionally misleading for a variety of motives, at worst.  

The good news however, for those who are looking to find out what PANArt Hang are actually selling for at open auction via eBay these days, is that there really is no need for wild speculation.  The information is all right there for you - with recent sales prices being readily available at the click of a button…

PANArt Hang Prices at eBay - Thus Far in 2017

As we can see from the image above-right, with the exception of one particularly poor offering of a Hang in (seemingly) pretty bad shape, and with little in the way of information/audio/video to support the sale, which sold for just short of $3400, Hang prices remain steady, if not having increased. Three first generation Hang have sold for prices between $8395 up to $10660. While a second generation was sold for $9500. And a free integral was sold for (presumably - best offer was accepted) somewhere around the 12000 Euro mark ($13500).

With the influx of newer Handpan makers in recent years, it is clearly observable that Hang sold at these prices are no longer flying off the shelves like hot-cakes, as they did back in the day. With those simply seeking a playable instrument now having far more affordable options to choose from. But it is also clear from the sales data above, that there still remains a market for PANArt originals, and musicians (and/or investors) who are willing to pay a premium, for these soon to be relics of Handpan history.

Opsilon Handpan - Built in Germany by Rafael Sotomayor

In our recent post on the Handpans of Arcana Musical Instruments, we wrote that in our opinion, often times Handpan-players seem to go on to make the best Handpan,.later down the tracks. From Aciel’s Michael Colley to Æther’s Colin Foulke, and a host of others, seasoned players who have gone on to take up the hammer, are producing some of the best sounding instruments out there.

And anybody who has had a good nose around the Handpans Magazine website, probably knows that accomplished Handpan musician, Rafael Sotomayor, is not just among our favourite performers - but was also the man responsible for making us fall in love with these instruments ourselves, many years ago now, when we first stumbled across the video for his track, Inner Voice. Which makes this post a particular pleasure to share, now that he himself has taken up the hammer, to produce his own range of Handpan, going by the name of “Opsilon”.

Opsilon Handpan

Based in Berlin, Germany, Opsilon Handpan are handmade by Rafael Sotomayor himself.  And Rafael describes his goal with the project as being:

"My dream is to make an instrument that touch the soul of the people".



One of our favourite things about the Opsilon Handpan, other than their singing-voice, because we think these are sounding great - is the reason behind their name.  Because while often the names of different makes of Handpan appear to be battling it out in a contest to offer up titles and epithets each more "spiritual" sounding than the last - the name for Rafael's Opsilon Handpan, was taken from an imaginary fantasy-planet that Rafael created for himself as a child, "Planet Opsilon".  A part of his childhood imagination that now any who play one of his creations, can visit and share in...



To find more information on the Opsilon Handpan you can visit the official website: HERE, or find them over at Facebook: HERE.

PANArt Vs EchoSoundSculpture (The Legal Battles Continue)

Despite in the early days of the PANArt Hang, the Hang-makers at PANArt seemingly welcoming new makers to “take up the hammer”, and follow in their footsteps.  Even going so far as to release much of the technical information regarding the Hang-building processes into the public domain. In recent years, PANArt’s open, and welcoming attitude, has now, like the original Hang itself (which was retired in 2013), become a relic of the past.  So that while PANArt themselves have become increasingly irrelevant to the Handpan-scene, that they themselves spawned.  Evidence suggests, that while they may have lost interest in producing Handpan-style Hang themselves (with their newer non-Handpan instruments still partially retaining the Hang name), their more-recently acquired enthusiasm for dragging newer Handpan-makers through the courts, seemingly in a desperate bid to reclaim what they gave up by failing to patent their new creation back when that was still an option, continues with gusto.

Back in 2012, PANArt, took one of their first competitors, Spanish Handpan-maker, and the man behind “BEllArt”, Luis Eguiguren to court.  Though (to our understanding) with the exception of the imposing of a few minor stipulations, PANArt lost their legal battle.  

But despite that loss, and they themselves stating in their 2013 published book, Hang: Sound Sculpture, that:

‘When the first copies of the Hang appeared in 2009, we turned to patent and market attorneys at Bovard AG.  We learned that we were already quite late.  However, an attempt was made to protect the Hang’s design.  Unsuccessfully.  There was nothing to be done against the copies by BEllArt (Spain), nor those by Pantheon Steel (U.S.A)...'

It has recently come to light that PANArt continue to try, regardless.  With an announcement made by their fellow Swiss makers, Echosoundsculpture, that:  


Meaning that despite having yet to really find any success in shutting down the "competition" through legal processes - newer makers might yet still expect to find a letter through the door, from PANArt’s lawyers. Possibly in attempt to "encourage" makers to sign up to their "Partners of PANArt" licensing deal...

The Two Million Dollar Bitcoin Handpan?

Here at HPM we’ve taken a bit of a pause in recent weeks, as our fascination has been temporarily diverted by the all-singing and all-dancing circus that has been the world of cryptocurrency over that same time period.  For those who don’t know what cryptocurrency is, and “Bitcoin” in particular, we’re not going to go into the mechanics of it here in great detail, as there is a world of information to be found on the topic elsewhere.  But for those who have never heard of it, essentially, it’s a digital, decentralised, monetary system, that has been gaining a huge amount of exposure in recent times, and with it, huge growth.  With the value of the leading cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, having risen by insane amounts over the last few years, and particularly so, over the past few weeks.

And so with that in mind, we decided to revisit a post we published back in 2014 - when U.S. based Handpan producers, Tzevaot, announced that they would be accepting Bitcoin, as a means of payment for one of their instruments.  Before announcing again shortly afterwards in January, 2014, that they had completed their first ever cryptocurrency sale:

'We have successfully completed our first Bitcoin/Litecoin sale! No paypal fees, no wire-transfer fees and from anywhere in the world at that. The future is amazing, and the future is now.'

At the time of that posting, the advertised price of a Tzevaot Handpan was around $1800.  With the average value of a Bitcoin at the time being around $860.  Meaning that the Handpan purchased from Tzevaot in cryptocurrency (presumably) cost somewhere around two Bitcoin.

Meaning that at it’s highest point so far (before a brief pullback), when the value of those Bitcoin had risen to around $2,700 each, just last week.  The value of those two Bitcoin that were paid to Tzevaot, held a value of around $5400.  Which obviously represents (in purely financial terms) a very smart move on the side of Tzevaot to be the first Handpan maker to publicly accept Bitcoin as a payment method.

However, while those figures represent some really nice growth, and profits, some of the predictions floating around out there for the potential increases in the value of Bitcoin in future days, place those figures firmly in the shade.  

Back in 2014 (around the same time) a Halo, made by Pantheon Steel sold for $15,000.00 at eBay. Making it the most expensive Handpan ever sold (to our knowledge).  But if folks like, PayPal director, Wences Casares, are correct in their predictions that in just five to ten years, the monetary value of a single Bitcoin could rise to the heady heights of one million dollars a piece - retrospectively speaking, January, 2014, may have seen the sale of the first (and possibly only ever) MILLION DOLLAR Handpan...  



Of course, this is all speculative, and only time will tell on that front.  But as a crossover between two of our fascinations here at HPM, you can be sure that it will be a story that we’ll revisit again, should that ever come to pass...

>> Want to get into Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies but don't know where to begin, follow this link to give Coinbase, the leading online Bitcoin wallet a try.

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